Ceva Seymour says she’s one of the lucky ones.
First, her husband managed to use ropes, hammers and nails to secure their roof in Freeport as Hurricane Dorian kept trying to lift it away and send it flying.
Then, she and 16 family members were able to leave the storm-ravaged Bahamas and make their way to the safety of Florida on Saturday aboard the Grand Celebration humanitarian cruise ship.
About 1,400 people landed, while 70,000 are left homeless in the Bahamas.
“The storm was very intense,” Seymour, 57, told CNN at the Port of Palm Beach, recalling sleepless nights and lots of prayers. “It was really, really dramatic. It hurts my heart” to think of so many back home unable to flee, many with children.
Daisy Rolle came to the port worried about her sister, Loretta Rahming, whom she has been unable to reach since shortly after the storm hit.
Rolle says she is desperate. She has tried everything but can’t find anyone who has seen Rahming, who’d been recuperating under nursing care.
“I’m worried because I desperately need to hear if she is OK,” Rolle said. “I need to get her over there because she had a stroke two years ago, and she cannot do anything for herself. If she can get around family members, we can take better care of her.”
Garisse Newbold traveled from Georgia to Florida to meet her grandmother, great-grandmother and other relatives who were able to get on the ship in Freeport. They had been without water and electricity and getting in touch with them had been spotty.
“It’s been very stressful,” Newbold said Saturday. “We just didn’t know. The thought of not knowing anything is the most difficult part.”
Art Vercillo, 64, a semi-retired doctor from New York, also returned from the Bahamas on the ship.
He said, “You could see an immense amount of devastation. People lost everything … Everything’s flattened.”
People are dehydrated and lack food, he said. “Just a terrible situation over there.”
Most of the evacuees who arrived in Florida Saturday morning were picked up by family members or were provided transportation to reach loved ones in the area, but 50 of the storm survivors will be housed at a shelter, Palm Beach County officials said.
The Red Cross and United Way are coordinating with Palm Beach County agencies to provide clothing, hygiene kits, wellness and mental health services to those at the shelter, the county said.
Of the 1,435 evacuees aboard the cruise ship, 539 are US citizens or lawful permanent residents, Customs and Border Patrol said. The others included 857 Bahamians and 39 evacuees of other nationalities.
Rosa Flores reported from Florida, with Jay Croft writing and Melissa Alonso contributing in Atlanta.